5 Steps to Making a Perfect Cardboard Bale

9th May 2021

While baling cardboard with a good quality machine isn’t difficult, it can be unsafe if attempted by someone without the right training or familiarity. No matter the size of your cardboard baler, the type, or the kinds of materials you’re compacting inside, the steps are generally the same and easy to manage once you know how. Let’s take a look.

Step 1 – Turn the machine on

It may go without saying, but find the socket and the on switch, or turn the key and wait for the light to show. Depending on your model, you may have several other buttons to either stop or start compression (or both), lower the pressing plate or lock the main cage, plus an emergency button to quickly press in case something goes wrong. Familiarize yourself with these before you start loading the machine. Open all the doors and make sure you have a flat surface for the base of your bale, i.e. place the largest and most uniform piece of cardboard first.

Step 2 – Compressing the cardboard or material

Some machines are best for cardboard and paper only, whereas others can compress things like fabric or plastic. Close the lower door and load the material in, paying attention not to include any pieces of metal that could cause damage. Lay cardboard across the full length of the baler. You needn’t break the boxes down – the machine will do it for you. TOP TIP – place boxes in on their side or upside down to prevent the edges of boxes getting stuck between the side of the machine and the pressing plate.

Stop loading when you reach the arrow indicators on the outside or a full light flashes, telling you you’ve reached capacity. A nice large piece of cardboard on top is always best then press the compress button (you may need to turn the key into the correct position first) for a few seconds to compact, then open the top door once the cycle is finished or the plate is in the down position.

Step 3 – Threading the wires

At this point, you may like to use a tool to clean out loose debris from the baler wire tying slots, top and bottom. Thread in the baling wire or banding through these ridges, from the front side. Guide the wire through the channels on the rear of the baler – there are typically around 4 or 5 of these. Pull the wire through to the front again and secure through the loops at each wire end, twisting to tighten. It’s important not to secure these too tightly or too loosely – to prevent snapping and injury or falling apart, respectively.  3 twists is perfect.

Some machines will automatically eject the bale once done, others will have two chains that are used to pull the bale out. In this case, the chains need to be hung and attached. Whatever you do, don’t reach inside with your hands to push or pull the bale, and stand clear to the side of it as it falls.  The buttons to make this happen are on the side of the machine to force you to stand clear.

Step 4 – Preparing a pallet

Typically, bales are ejected out onto a wooden pallet for easy transport. You’ll need to put the pallet in front of the baler, ready to catch the finished bale. It’s important to get this right since a bale can be incredibly heavy and difficult to move if it lands anywhere other than on the pallet. When ejecting the bale, the operator needs to stand well away from the machine for safety, and to be clear of any wires that may snap and cause injury if they come loose.

Step 5 – Transporting the bale

The bale can now be loaded up and moved for transport off the premises, using an electrical jack or forklift. Close the doors of the baler and make sure that all the moving parts are in their original position (i.e., the platen is in the up position) and the machine is in a safe mode before being switched off. Most balers are built with a safety switch, where compression cannot occur unless the safety button is also simultaneously pressed. If there are chains, these can be returned to their original positions, and the bale can be loaded into trucks or stored away. If being stored until a recycling van can come and collect them, bales need to be put safely out of the way where they won’t obstruct traffic, or get wet.

Different types and models will have slightly different modes of operation, which is why it’s so important to understand the step-by-step instructions for your particular machine. It’s useful to print out these instructions and attach them to the side of the machine, for any employees to follow when using the baler. It’s also a good idea to put only a few people in charge of the baler, or at least allow only those who have been trained to operate it.

QCR have QR codes on most machines directly linking to a training video for the model you have.  Compatible with all smartphones whilst you are using the baler.

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